Skift Travel News Blog

Short stories and posts about the daily news happenings around the travel industry.


JetBlue to Begin Paris Flights in June

3 weeks ago

JetBlue Airways flights to Paris will takeoff at the end of June, with the city of lights joining London as the second European destination on the carrier’s map.

The New York-based airline will initially offer one daily flight to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport from New York JFK beginning June 29, JetBlue said Tuesday. It also plans a nonstop flight to Paris from Boston at a later date.

The new Paris service is part of JetBlue’s push to disrupt premium travel between the U.S. and Europe with its popular Mint business class. The airline targets cost-conscious business travelers and premium leisure flyers with a lower price point for the lie-flat seats than legacy competitors, like British Airways and Delta Air Lines. JetBlue executives have repeatedly described its debut to London in August 2021 as successful.

Introductory Mint fares between New York and Paris are $1,899 one way, according to JetBlue. Delta, for one, is asking at least $3,382 one-way for a business class seat on the same route on June 29, the day JetBlue flights begin.

JetBlue’s European expansion has not gone as smoothly as executives have hoped. The airline has struggled to acquire slots at Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, which has prompted a complaint with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Aircraft delivery delays at Airbus have slowed the launch of new flights. And, after JetBlue first unveiled plans to serve London in 2019, the pandemic disrupted transatlantic travel and delayed the start of flights.


Largest Flight Attendants Union Backs JetBlue-Spirit Merger

1 month ago

The largest flight attendants union, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, is backing the proposed $3.8 billion merger of JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines as part of a new agreement with the latter carrier.

“The JetBlue-Spirit merger adds competition to the airline industry that creates more power for workers, along with choice and comfort that benefits consumers,” AFA President Sara Nelson said Tuesday. “We urge regulators to work diligently to ensure the financial merger closing occurs in the near term so that flight attendants, other workers, and consumers can access the benefits of the merger as soon as possible.”

AFA represents the roughly 5,600 flight attendants at Spirit. JetBlue’s more than 4,800 flight attendants are represented by the Transport Workers Union, or TWU.

A Spirit Airlines flight attendant
(Spirit Airlines)

Labor support for the merger is not a guarantee that the U.S. Department of Justice, which handles antitrust matters, will approve the deal. Reports indicate that the regulator intends to block the JetBlue-Spirit combination, and JetBlue CEO Robin Hayes said Tuesday that the carrier was ready “to go to court” if it had too to get the deal done.

However, labor backing of a merger can make the integration process go more smoothly once the deal closes.

AFA’s support for the merger came as part of a new two-year accord with Spirit. The tentative agreement, which flight attendants still must vote on, also includes pay raises of 10-27 percent upon ratification.


JetBlue Claims Discrimination in Unsuccessful Effort to Fly to Amsterdam

1 month ago

JetBlue Airways alleges that the Netherlands has violated the terms of the open-skies agreement between the U.S. and European Union after repeatedly denying the airline’s requests to serve Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport.

Under the agreement, airlines can operate an unlimited number of flights between the U.S. and EU as long as they can secure the necessary airport landing and takeoff rights — known as “slots” — on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. JetBlue, which first launched flights to Europe in 2021, said it has made at least three applications for slots at Schiphol since September, all of which have been denied, to begin two daily flights to Amsterdam — one from Boston and one from New York’s JFK airport — this summer.

“The Dutch government’s conduct violates the [open-skies] agreement and constitutes an ‘unjustifiable or unreasonable discriminatory or anticompetitive practice’ and ‘imposes an unjustifiable or unreasonable restriction’ on JetBlue’s access to U.S.-AMS markets,” JetBlue said in a complaint to the U.S. Department of Transportation on Tuesday.

The complaint is a highly unusual method to gain international airport access, and one used only as a last resort by an airline.

JetBlue wants to fly an Airbus A321LR, like the one pictured, to Amsterdam. (Adam Moreira/Wikimedia)

JetBlue claimed that its requests, which included seeking unused slots previously used by Aeroflot and bankrupt Flybe, were denied due to the Dutch government’s controversial policy to reduce noise and carbon emissions at Schiphol. This effort would reduce the maximum number of flights allowed at the airport to 440,000 annually from 500,000 currently. The policy has also raised concerns at KLM.

Schiphol also implemented passenger caps this past summer due to understaffing, particularly of security functions. Those caps will end at the end of March.

The DOT will likely begin evaluating JetBlue’s complaint, first determining if it has merit before investigating whether the Netherlands have violated the open-skies agreement. It is unlikely to result in new JetBlue flights to Amsterdam this summer, but could facilitate the airline gaining access to Schiphol in the coming years.


U.S. Expected to Block JetBlue-Spirit Merger: Report

2 months ago

The U.S. Department of Justice is expected to sue to block the proposed merger of JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines, Politico reported late Friday.

The move was not unexpected given the Biden administration’s public position against large mergers in already consolidated industries. Four airlines — American, Delta, Southwest, and United — control nearly 80 percent of the U.S. market.

JetBlue has argued that its deal to buy Spirit for $3.8 billion would create a stronger competitor to its big four competitors. The combined carriers would have roughly a 9 percent share of U.S. domestic traffic, and be the fifth largest in the country. On Thursday, JetBlue outlined at least eight new routes the combined airlines could potentially add.

“This isn’t Pepsi and Coke merging,” JetBlue President and Chief Operating Officer Joanna Geraghty told Reuters on Wednesday.

The DOJ’s suit, which Politico reported could come as soon as March, is not necessarily the end of the deal. The regulator similarly moved to block the merger of American and US Airways in 2013 before reaching an out-of-court settlement that allowed the merger to go forward several months later.

Spirit shareholders approved the deal in October, after JetBlue beat Frontier Airlines in a bidding war for Spirit last July.


JetBlue Names Paris as Second European Destination

4 months ago

JetBlue Airways will land on the European continent next summer with new flights to Paris.

The New York-based carrier will first connect its New York JFK base to Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport, with additional nonstop flights from Boston planned in the future. The addition of the City of Lights to JetBlue’s map will come two years after it entered the transatlantic market with service to London in August 2021.

As with JetBlue’s entrance on the crowded New York-London route, the airline hopes to similarly disrupt the New York-Paris market by offering a more affordable premium option with its lie-flat Mint business class product. But Paris is different than London, La Compagnie already offers a more affordable premium product between Newark and Paris Orly; an option that was not available in the New York-London market. JetBlue also faces competition from Air France, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, French Bee, and United Airlines, Diio by Cirium schedule data show.

“So far, it has been fantastic,” JetBlue President Joanna Geraghty said of the airline’s London flights at the Skift Global Forum in September. “Load factors have been through the roof, and I’d say it’s pretty tough to get a Mint seat flying across the pond.”

Competition won’t be JetBlue’s only challenge on its new Paris route. Production issues at planemaker Airbus have delayed the delivery of new A321LR aircraft that the airline needs for its transatlantic routes. The situation forced JetBlue to fly less optimized aircraft on select London flights this summer and fall.


Newark Airport Sets Opening Date for First New Terminal in 34 Years

4 months ago

It’s not often that travelers have something to look forward to at Newark Liberty International Airport. The new $2.7 billion Terminal A will open in December, the latest in a series of major airport projects opening around the U.S. this year.

The first 21 gates of the 33-gate facility will open on December 8, officials said Tuesday. The remaining gates open in 2023. Air Canada, American Airlines, JetBlue Airways, and United Airlines will operate from the terminal initially, and Delta Air Lines will join them next year. The old Terminal A, which opened in 1973, will be demolished.

The last new terminal to open at Newark airport was Terminal C in 1988.

Inside the new Terminal A at Newark airport
The security checkpoint in the new Terminal A at Newark airport. (PANYNJ)

United, which has a large hub at Newark, will use up to 15 gates in the new Terminal A. The airline plans to operate flights to around 23 destinations — including to Atlanta, Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, Nashville, Raleigh-Durham, San Diego, and Seattle-Tacoma — from the facility, Newark Chief Pilot Captain Fabian Garcia said in September.

The new terminal at Newark is the latest in a series of big airport investments around the U.S. this year. New or expanded facilities at Denver, Los Angeles, New York LaGuardia, Orlando, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Seattle-Tacoma, and Washington Dulles airports have all opened in recent months.

Construction of Terminal A at Newark began in 2018.


Spirit Airlines Shareholders Approve JetBlue Merger

5 months ago

The JetBlue Airways and Spirit Airlines merger is a step closer to reality with the approval of the latter’s shareholders Wednesday.

Investors in Miramar, Florida-based Spirit approved the $3.8 billion deal with more than 50 percent voting in favor. Shareholder approval was a key, though not final, step in merging the U.S.’ sixth and seventh largest airlines.

“Today’s vote is a major milestone in our plan to join with Spirit to create a high-quality, low-fare national challenger,” a JetBlue spokesperson said.

JetBlue and Spirit still must secure regulatory approval from the U.S. Justice Department before the merger can close. That is far from a guarantee with the Biden administration taking a firm stance against consolidation in major industries, and for additional competition.

Both JetBlue and Spirit argue that by merging they will be a more formidible competitor to the largest U.S. carriers — American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. But the combination would also remove the country’s largest budget airlines, Spirit, leaving the market entirely to smaller Frontier Airlines.

In July, Frontier lost a bidding war with JetBlue for Spirit.

JetBlue and Spirit hope to secure regulatory approval and close their merger by the first half of 2024.


JetBlue Wants to Make Group Travel Easier With New App

6 months ago

Ever tried to plan a trip with friends? The multiple planning emails, messages, Airbnb wish lists, can all get a bit overwhelming when one just wants to hang out with their pals. Well, JetBlue Travel Products has an app for that.

Troupe, which launched on Wednesday, is an app that allows groups to plan their trips together in a coordinated fashion. Users can “suggest, vote, and comment on dates, destinations, activities and stays,” as well as “manage RSVPs, create polls, share notes, add suggestions, and vote as a group to build consensus and lock in a plan before they book” in the app, according to JetBlue Travel Products.

JetBlue Troupe App
(JetBlue Travel Products)

“As we continue to look for fresh solutions to ease friction in travel and expand JetBlue’s reputation for great service, the Troupe app aims to simplify group travel planning and perfectly aligns with our goal to build new travel offerings that transform how people travel,” JetBlue Travel Products President Andres Barry said.

Troupe joins the growing universe of ancillary travel products JetBlue offers travelers in its push to become something of a broader travel tech company. The airline launched Paisly, a website that offers travelers trip add ons to their flights, including activities, hotels, and rental cars, last year. And, in 2020, it debuted JetBlue Vacations.

In July, JetBlue said its travel products division was on track to meet its target of $100 million in operating income this year.


JetBlue and Spirit Airlines Set October Date for Merger Vote

7 months ago

JetBlue Airways may have won over the board and management of Spirit Airlines in its bidding war with competitor Frontier Airlines for the discounter. But JetBlue still needs to sway shareholders before the deal can move forward.

Spirit has scheduled an October 19 shareholder meeting for a vote on JetBlue’s $3.8 billion takeover offer. Investors in the airline have been down this road before with Spirit scheduling and either postponing or suspending four previous meetings on Frontier’s failed offer.

But even if Spirit shareholders approve the JetBlue offer as is expected, the merger still has a steep hill to climb with the Department of Justice. The regulator, whose approval is key to the combination, has yet to weigh in on the merger that would remove a budget competitor from the U.S. market, and make JetBlue the fifth largest domestic player.



Emirates Ends JetBlue Partnership Ahead of Expected United Pact

7 months ago

In the latest hint of a major change to Emirates’ U.S. strategy, the Dubai-based airline is ending its partnership with JetBlue Airways on October 30.

The change, which was first reported by The Points Guy, comes as Emirates prepares to hold a joint “special event” with United Airlines on September 14. The United announcement is expected to include a codeshare partnership that would see both Emirates and United connect their passengers onto the other carriers’ flights.

(Chris Sampson/Flickr)

Emirates and JetBlue have been partners since 2012. The tie up has had commercial ripples through the industry, for example, it forced United to end flights to Dubai in 2016 after the partners won the U.S. government contract for travel to the Gulf city. And Fort Lauderdale — a major base for JetBlue — was Emirates’ sole destination in South Florida from 2016 until 2020; Emirates swapped Fort Lauderdale for Miami in 2021, according to Diio by Cirium schedules.

JetBlue, like Emirates, notified frequent flyers on its website that the partnership with Emirates would end on October 30.




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